Though they urged it should be extended and serve as a first step toward a complete cessation of hostilities, Arab foreign ministers hailed an agreement on Wednesday for a temporary truce between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
At a London media briefing, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan declared that the deal, which calls for the release of hostages and increased aid to the Gaza Strip, should eventually result in the restart of negotiations for a two-state solution.
Under Wednesday’s temporary ceasefire deal, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the humanitarian aid should be sustained and expanded, and it should not later become contingent on further hostage releases.
“Whatever humanitarian access now increases as a result of this hostage deal must remain in place and must be built upon,” he said.
“There must at no point be a reduction in this access based on progress for further release of hostages … Punishing the civilian population of Gaza for the holding of those hostages is absolutely not acceptable.”
The Arab foreign ministers are leading a so-called contact group of mostly Muslim countries which are lobbying Israel’s major allies and the UN Security Council to bring about an end to the Gaza war and move towards a permanent solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.